Men and women in the younger demographics often assume they don't need to think about estate planning because they don't have much to protect. They might still be looking for a career and paying off student loans; they may not have a house, spouse or children yet.
However, if you are a millennial, or even part of Generation Z, you may not want to dismiss the idea of an estate plan just yet. Actually, you could have more to protect than you think, if you stop to think about it.
An estate plan is not just about protecting assets. It also protects your wishes in terms of your health and health decisions. For instance, as this article discusses, an advance care directive can specify the medical measures you would and would not want if you become incapacitated. You can also give someone power of attorney, allowing him or her to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf - - invaluable if you do become incapacitated, temporarily or permanently, and particularly important if you'd rather not leave those decisions to chance, or to next-of-kin.
Making an estate plan can be just as much about your loved ones as it is about you. For instance, you can provide guidance for your parents regarding the management of your digital accounts (which, in fact, are assets you can address in an estate plan). If you are in a committed relationship but not married, you can use an estate plan to ensure your partner receives certain assets or decision-making authority - - in most states, absent a will or trust, a domestic partner has no rights to assets from an "intestate" decedent. If you do have children, you can use an estate plan to appoint a guardian.
You cannot leave money to your pet, but that doesn't mean you cannot protect an animal with an estate plan. Instead of leaving the fate of an animal in the hands of the courts or hoping someone will step up to take care of your pet if you cannot, you can assign ownership in a will. You can also earmark funds to be used strictly for the care and support of your animal.
These are just a few examples of what you can protect with an estate plan outside of financial assets and property. An experienced estate planning attorney may suggest other things worth addressing in your estate plan as well, so it could be in your best interests to explore those options - - with an experienced estate planning attorney by your side.